Book Review: An American Marriage

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Goodreads synopsis:

Newlyweds Celestial and Roy are the embodiment of both the American Dream and the New South. He is a young executive, and she is an artist on the brink of an exciting career. But as they settle into the routine of their life together, they are ripped apart by circumstances neither could have imagined. Roy is arrested and sentenced to twelve years for a crime Celestial knows he didn’t commit. Though fiercely independent, Celestial finds herself bereft and unmoored, taking comfort in Andre, her childhood friend, and best man at their wedding. As Roy’s time in prison passes, she is unable to hold on to the love that has been her center. After five years, Roy’s conviction is suddenly overturned, and he returns to Atlanta ready to resume their life together. “

It took me a few days to comprehend what this book was REALLY about. It wasn’t just about how shitty the criminal justice system can be (although that was part of it), it was also about complex relationships and the strain that can be put on a marriage when someone is incarcerated. There were a lot of aspects that are just downright unfair in this book. Being married for a year and having your life ripped apart, being arrested for a crime you didn’t commit, having to spend years and years in jail, having your wife lose interest, losing your job and every ounce of stability you’ve created. It is so raw and often times mesmerizing. Despite the fact that Roy sat in jail for five years, for the first few  he remained hopeful that he would get out and life would be the same, at least regarding his wife. When that doesn’t happen, he realizes how much he has truly lost.

Out of all the characters, I loved Roy the most. He was flawed, yes, but I couldn’t help feel he always acted on emotion. He loved Celestial so much and it was very apparent.

Celestial was a character I couldn’t really get behind. She was smart, driven and strong but very insecure around Roy’s family. It seemed like she was deeply threatened by Roy’s parent’s relationship and questioned herself in regards to her own, while Little Roy exuded confidence and longed for the type of relationship his parents had.

I wasn’t surprised with the ending. I don’t want to give too much away, but it made sense the way it worked out. All in all, I liked this book, but I still don’t feel like I really “got it” completely. Maybe I’ll read it again someday.

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